Called to the Bar in 2000, Adrian has been described as “thorough, smart and responsive”. Adrian is recognised in various legal publications for his experience and expertise as advocate in heavy commercial cases.
His practice spans a range of civil litigation areas including commercial fraud, securities-related and banking claims, joint venture and shareholder disputes, succession and trust law, real property (including en-bloc sale litigation) as well as construction and projects. As Adrian is effectively bilingual in English and Mandarin, he is frequently retained to act in matters involving PRC law as well as Chinese parties. Adrian is also active in international arbitrations, both as counsel and arbitrator.
Adrian is a panel member of the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents established under the Maintenance of Parents Act. As an independent judicial entity, the Tribunal provides legal recourse for the elderly in Singapore who are unable to support themselves financially and who therefore need to claim maintenance from their children. In 2019, Adrian was appointed as a member of the Competition Appeals Board to hear appeals relating to decisions made by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore.
Adrian regularly appears before the Supreme Court of Singapore and arbitral tribunals. Matters of significance that Adrian has handled include :-
Notable Cases & Transactions
- Acting for a client, a US corporation, in an arbitration claim arising from a contract for the development and supply of a military drone system developed for national security. The purchaser of the system (i.e. the respondent in the arbitration) has alleged that the system has not met contractual specifications and has further asserted that this alleged failure posed intolerable operational risks. The client, being an experienced supplier of such drone systems, however disagrees and has cited examples of other international and successful users of similar systems. Another complication in the matter is the security and integrity of parts of the supplied system, which were called into question, after various missiles were damaged while in the respondent’s custody (prior to formal commissioning). The resolution of this matter is likely to require extensive expert evidence given the technical and specialised nature of the drone systems supplied and the allegations raised by the respondent.
- Acting in an international arbitration claim concerning an original equipment manufacturing agreement for the supply and distribution of surface mounter machines used in the electronics industry. Damages in excess of EUR 40 million were sought for the clients (who were distributors in various international markets) against the equipment supplier for breach of contract and conspiracy to erode market share. In the course of the arbitration, the equipment supplier was forced to admit that its employees had undertaken forbidden sales of machines and had forged documents in an attempt to hide the wrongful sales. In addition to various technical issues relating to the surface mounter machines, complex issues of Singapore, German and Japanese law were also explored in these proceedings.
- Representing two subsidiaries of a Singapore listed company in an international arbitration claim against their Indonesian and Dutch joint venture partners. The joint venture business between the parties, which was the subject-matter of the arbitration, involved the construction, installation and maintenance of base transmission stations for mobile phone networks in Indonesia. Apart from the highly technical nature of the matter, complex issues of Indonesian law were also raised in these proceedings.
- Acting for a subsidiary of a Singapore listed company in an arbitration claim by its joint venture partner in connection with the financing, construction and operation of a coal-fire power generation facility in Anhui, China.
- Defending a multi-million dollar arbitration claim concerning the abortion of a sale of real property and associated warehouse facilities in the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone. Complex issues of PRC contract, property and tax law were explored in these proceedings.
- Acting in a SIAC arbitration claim involving a hotel management agreement between a hotel owner in Bahrain and an international hotel management group based in Singapore. Complex issues of Bahrani law were raised in these proceedings, with the value of the claims and counterclaims being in excess of US$100 million.
- Representing a well-known telecommunications carrier in the United States in an international arbitration claim against the Chinese national telecommunications carrier. The dispute involved six international half-channel private telecommunications lines (originating from the US) which the clients leased to the respondents for the latter to provide Internet services to their customers in China. Issues relating to the tax and regulatory framework applicable to the US telecommunications industry were raised in the arbitration, which necessitated the calling of expert witnesses on US law.
Banking and commercial
- Defending a bank in a highly publicised claim brought in the name of a wealthy 92 year old customer for breach of duty. The bank considered the customer mentally incapable of providing valid instructions and refused to allow the operation of the customer’s accounts. The High Court accepted that the bank did not breach its mandate and concluded that “the Bank admirably acted to ensure payment was made only if it had the actual mandate from its customer…The Bank did the right thing by its conduct and lived up to its social responsibilities in this case”. The High Court decision, which was the first reported banking case in Singapore involving suspected elderly fraud, was subsequently upheld by the Singapore Court of Appeal.
- Acting for a syndicate of international banks in a claim involving a US$40 million syndicated loan agreement governed by English law. In this case, the plaintiff borrower, an Indian listed company, alleged that the loan agreement had been rendered illegal pursuant to certain Indian regulatory restrictions on foreign currency debts.
- Defending a bank in connection with a multi-million dollar financing arrangement asserted by the Comptroller of Income Tax to be contrary to Singapore’s statutory general anti-avoidance rules.
- Representing clients in a case that clarified the limits of a law enforcement agency’s power to withhold property seized for the purposes of criminal investigations. In a ground breaking decision that settled the approach to be applied by the court when presented with an application to extend the period of such aforesaid seizure, the High Court found that the clients suffered serious injustice and ordered the immediate release of the seized properties.
- Acting against the Official Assignee in a landmark case where the Court of Appeal recognised the doctrine of abandonment as part of Singapore law and applied it, for the first time, to intangible property. The decision by the Court of Appeal laid down the test to be applied for the doctrine of abandonment to be invoked and is also the first case in Singapore to have considered the effect of s 346 of the Companies Act.
- Defending a leading insurance company in a multi-million dollar claim by a policy holder in connection with an insurance policy allegedly containing a "critical year" feature. This reported case also laid down for the first time in Singapore the applicable principles relating to Internet defamation in the context of online blogs.
- Appeared as instructed counsel in a shareholders dispute in connection with a well-known chain of Indonesian restaurants in Singapore. In the course of this brief, the law in Singapore concerning a director’s right to inspect company accounts / financial documents was clarified. It was held by the High Court that the inspection right could be displaced if the director had intended to use it for a purpose unconnected with his role as director. Previously, it was widely assumed that the right to inspect would only be denied where the exercise would be “injurious” or “detrimental” to the company.
Trust and estate disputes
- Representing beneficiaries of the estate of a well-known entrepreneur and Chinese community leader in Singapore (who passed away in the 1960s) in a series of contentious proceedings (spanning decades) involving various executors of the estate as well as family companies. To-date, the estate has not been fully administered. Related court proceedings included Singapore's last appeal to the Privy Council.
- Acting in a series of contentious proceedings and related inheritance disputes, spanning almost a decade, in connection with the estate of a property tycoon worth more than S$400 million.
- Representing clients in a breach of trust claim, worth more than US$600 million, concerning the wrongful dissipation of trust property and funds located in various jurisdictions across the world.
Construction and real property
- Acting as instructed counsel in the first reported Singapore Court of Appeal decision on the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act and in related proceedings.
- Retained as instructed counsel in proceedings involving various explosions arising from taped joint failures in power cables. The failures were observed on copper and aluminium XLPE cables which connected power stations and sealing ends on copper cables.
- Representing majority owners to obtain a sale order from the High Court for the en bloc sale of a 500,000 sq ft site for S$610 million, which was opposed inter alia on the basis that there was misrepresentation by the marketing agent on the applicable development charge payable by the purchaser. Amongst other things, the Court of Appeal confirmed that it was for the objectors to prove lack of good faith in the transaction.
- Acting for the marketing agent appointed for the en bloc sale of a 540,000 sq ft site for S$590 million, which had been opposed on the basis that the transaction had not been conducted in good faith. To encourage certain subsidiary proprietors to enter into the collective sale agreement, the marketing agent agreed to certain incentive payment arrangements proposed by these proprietors, payable from the marketing agent’s fees. This was the first reported case in Singapore wherein the legal propriety of such incentive arrangements was scrutinised.
Written grounds of decision were issued for the following matters handled by Adrian:-
- Lee Hiok Tng (in his personal capacity) v Lee Hiok Tng and another (executors and trustees of the estate of Lee Wee Nam, deceased) and others 1 SLR(R) 771 (Court of Appeal);  SGHC 192 (High Court)
- Re Sogo Department Stores (S) Pte Ltd (under judicial management) 1 SLR(R) 663
- PT Kiani Kertas v PT Indorimagas Pratama and others SGHC 330
- Essar Steel Ltd v Bayerische Landesbank and others 3 SLR(R) 25
- United Engineers (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Lee Lip Hiong and others  4 SLR(R) 305 (on appeal from  SGHC 153 and  SGHC 169)
- Bougainvillea Realty Pte Ltd v Siong Hoe International (Pte) Ltd SGDC 31
- Tan King Hiang v United Engineers (Singapore) Pte Ltd 3 SLR(R) 529
- Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and others)  4 SLR(R) 565 (Court of Appeal);  1 SLR(R) 1119 (High Court)
- Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd v Eco Fuels Solutions Asia, Inc and others  SGHC 103
- Hytech Builders Pte Ltd v Goh Teng Poh Karen  3 SLR(R) 236
- Sin Yong Contractor Pte Ltd (in liquidation) v United Engineers (Singapore) Pte Ltd SGHC 43
- Murakami Takako (executrix of the estate of Takashi Murakami Suroso, deceased) v Wiryadi Louise Maria and others 1 SLR(R) 508 (Court of Appeal);  3 SLR(R) 198 (High Court)
- Goh Kah Heng (alias Shi Ming Yi) v Public Prosecutor and another criminal motion  3 SLR(R) 409
- Paul De Fries v Noble Group Ltd  SGHC 40
- Premium Automobiles Pte Ltd v Song Gin Puay Ronnie SGHC 254 (High Court);  SGDC 240 (District Court)
- The Teneriffe Development Pte Ltd v Alain Mahendran Arul and another  SGDC 107
- Basil Anthony Herman v Premier Security Co-operative Ltd and others 3 SLR 110 (Court of Appeal);  SGHC 214 (High Court)
- Goh Kah Heng (alias Shi Ming Yi) v Public Prosecutor and another matter  4 SLR 258 (High Court);  SGDC 499 and  SGDC 500 (District Court)
- Tay Jui Chuan v Koh Joo Ann (alias Koh Choon Teck) and other appeals  4 SLR 1069 (Court of Appeal);  SGHC 87 (High Court)
- Zhu Yong Zhen v American International Assurance Co, Ltd and another 4 SLR 1051 (on appeal from  SGHC 115)
- RBS Coutts Bank Ltd v Brunner Hans-Peter SGHC 342
- Hsu Ann Mei Amy (personal representative of the estate of Hwang Cheng Tsu Hsu, deceased) v Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd 2 SLR 178 (Court of Appeal);  4 SLR 47 (High Court)
- Hau Tau Khang v Sanur Indonesian Restaurant Pte Ltd and another (Hau Tau Thong, non-party) and another matter 3 SLR 1128
- Lee Hwee Khim Rosalind v Lee Sai Kim and others SGHC 64
- Doctor’s Associates Inc v Lim Eng Wah (trading as Subway Niche) SGHC 104
- Robert Bosch GmbH and another v YSH Pte Ltd SGHC 148
- Basil Anthony Herman v Premier Security Co-operative Ltd and others  2 SLR 616
- PT Prima International Development v Kempinski Hotels SA 4 SLR 98 (Court of Appeal);  4 SLR 633,  4 SLR 669,  4 SLR 670 (High Court)
- Lee Wee Lick Terence (Li Weili Terence) v Chua Say Eng (formerly trading as Weng Fatt Construction Engineering) and another appeal  1 SLR 401 (Court of Appeal);  SGHC 109 (High Court) (on appeal from  SGHC 333)
- Zhu Yong Zhen v AIA Singapore Pte Ltd and another 2 SLR 478
- Ngui Gek Lian Philomene and others v Chan Kiat and others (HSR International Realtors Pte Ltd, intervener)  4 SLR 694
- Riaz LLC v Sharil bin Abbas (through his deputy and litigation representative, Salbeah bte Paye)  4 SLR 736
- Lotusonwater Jadeite Pte Ltd v Ang Chee Soon Vincent SGHC 100
- Ho Hoe Theng v Jurong Country Club  SGDC 113
- Saraj Din s/o Sher Mohamed v Anthony Herman Basil  SGDC 180
- Loh Siew Hock and others v Lang Chin Ngau  4 SLR 1117
- SH Cogent Logistics Pte Ltd and another v Singapore Agro Agricultural Pte Ltd and others  4 SLR 1208
- AKN and another v ALC and others and other appeals  3 SLR 488(Court of Appeal);  4 SLR 245 (High Court)
- Lee Siew Ngug and others v Lee Brothers (Wee Kee) Pte Ltd and another  3 SLR 1093
- Lee Sung Ming Arthur and another v KSCGP Juris LLP  SGDC 354
- AKN and another v ALC and others and other appeals 1 SLR 99
- Muthukumaran s/o Varthan and another v Kwong Kai Chung and others  1 SLR 1273 (Court of Appeal);  4 SLR 1248 (High Court)
- Werner Samuel Vuillemin v Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd  3 SLR 501
- Lee Chen Seong Jeremy v Official Assignee  2 SLR 820
- The Law Society of Singapore v Mahtani Bhagwandas  SGDT 10
- Kok Yin Chong and others v Lim Hun Joo and others  SGCA 28 (Court of Appeal); SGHC 3,  SGHC 256 (High Court)
- Powerdrive Pte Ltd v Loh Kin Yong Philip and others  3 SLR 399
- Lee Chen Seong Jeremy and others v Public Prosecutor  SLR 867
- Wan Hoe Keet (Wen Haojie) and Another v LVM Law Chambers LLC  SGHC 103
- Chain Land Elevator Corp v FB Industries Pte Ltd and others  SGHC 2
- Panel Member, Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents
- Member, Law Society of Singapore
- Member, Singapore Academy of Law
- ‘Damages for Non-Pecuniary Losses in Contract Law : A New Horizon’  19 Sing LR 77
- ‘An Introduction to Liens in Commercial Transactions’  20 Sing LR 134 (cited in Fiona R Burns, ‘The Equitable Lien Rediscovered : a Remedy for the 21st Century’  UNSWLJ 1)
- ‘Restraining a Call on a Performance Bond – Should “Fraud or Unconscionability” be the New Orthodoxy?’ (2000) 12 SAcLJ 132 (cited in Eltraco International Pte Ltd v CGH Development Pte Ltd  2 SLR(R) 180 at  as well as various academic publications)
- Interlocutory Injunctions, 2nd Ed (LexisNexis, 2010)
- Chapter on Singapore law in Wendi S Lazar and Gary R Siniscalco, Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets in Employment Law : An International Survey (American Bar Association, 2010)
- ‘Discovery and Cross-examination Challenges in International Arbitrations : a Singapore Perspective’ published in New York Dispute Resolution Lawyer (New York State Bar Association, 2011)
- Contributing editor for Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore: Banking and Finance (LexisNexis, Singapore, 2011) – updated the chapters on negotiable instruments and syndicated loans
- ‘Judicial Review of SGX-ST’s Public Reprimand Powers : Yeap Wai Kong v Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd  3 SLR 565’  24 SAcLJ 568
- Contributing editor for the commentary to Order 24 of the Rules of Court (Discovery and Inspection of Documents) in Singapore Civil Procedure 2013 (Sweet and Maxwell, Singapore, 2012)
- Chapter on “Judicial Review” in Lexis Practical Guidance (Singapore Dispute Resolution), published in 2016